Waste Audits Are Back, With Added COVID Protections

Great Forest auditor Zidane Golightly in her PPE, including Tyvek suit, N-95 mask, face shield, nitrile gloves overlaid with washable vest and hat.

Great Forest has returned to performing comprehensive waste audits by planning carefully and safely.

Our first waste audit since March, and the first of the COVID-19 era, was conducted in July at the Folsom Corporate Center in Northern California, supporting LEED certification coordinated by Envision Realty Services. The results of the audit will be used to generate points toward LEED certification based on the percentage of diversion of waste from the landfill.

We audited the waste of about 70 current occupants of the Corporate Center, out of 455 occupants who were working there pre-COVID. Even though buildings are not in full occupancy during the pandemic, the U.S. Green Building Council has provided guidance for LEED auditing.  The waste generated by currently occupied spaces is expected to be generally representative of the overall building’s waste generation under what is considered the “new normal” occupancy during the pandemic.

Great Forest auditors’ PPE (personal protective equipment) included a full Tyvek suit with elastic cuffs and hood, N-95 masks, face shields, and nitrile gloves.

By arrangement with property management, our team undertook the audit outdoors adjacent to the building’s trash enclosure, which provided better air circulation. We used portable lighting for extra illumination.

Although the temperature at the start of the audit registered 88 degrees, we made sure to keep the suits zipped up. To ensure that everyone remained hydrated, we scheduled breaks for fluids. Face shields and masks had to be carefully removed each time, which necessitated several changes of gloves interspersed with use of hand sanitizer. The temperature at the end of the audit was a much more agreeable 78 degrees.

Two auditors worked on opposite sides of a portable sorting table to provide distancing. Items were sorted into plastic bag-lined barrels, bins, and buckets that were thoroughly cleaned after the audit.PPE encountered in the audit was bagged and disposed separately.

After the audit was completed and the equipment taken down and wiped, the auditors shucked the last set of gloves, washed hands, and changed into new clothing for the drive home.

Moving the waste audit outdoors ensured better air circulation and a safer work environment.


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